Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bee's Balls Birthday Dinner

For years on my birthday I would claim to be twenty-nine.  That is until I was called out by my children.  With hands on their hips they said, "Mom you've been twenty-nine for a long time, how old are you really?"  Now fast forward, there is no way I would want to be twenty-nine!  I cherish each and every birthday and love celebrating them with the people I love.  As I have for several years, I plan my own day and prepare my birthday meal.  I love doing this.  I do not expect others to do it for me, I just want them to join in on my celebration.

This year on my special day a friend and I hiked The River Wildlife Management Area at Ijams Nature Center to view the 70 areas of Sunflowers.  It was 91'  and the sun was high and hot!  There was hundreds of others who had the same idea or maybe they were there to observe my birthday with me.   Hmmm, how did they know?

Following our afternoon in the sun, Karen and I, with our men folk gathered at the house for an Italian feast followed by birthday cake.  Summer Strawberry Coconut Cake with a scoop of Strawberry Ice-Cream is one of my favorites.  It was a perfect way to end the evening.

Bee's Balls
Meat Ball Ingredients:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onions
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 pound Italian Sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 large egg (yolk & white divided)
1/4 cup garlic breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese 
1 tablespoon fresh basil (chopped) 
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley (chopped)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces mozzarella balls
2 boxes puff pastry, you will have one sheet left over, keep it in the freezer.
Meat Balls Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 400'.
2.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a medium skillet, cook the diced onions 3-5 minutes.
3.  Add the garlic, cook for an additional minute.
4.  Add the Italian sausage and ground beef to a large mixing bowl.
5.  Add the cooked onion & garlic, egg yolk, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, oregano, salt and black pepper.
6.  Mix together.
7.  Form into 9 large meatballs, filling each with one mozzarella ball.
8.  Grease a baking sheet and place meatball on and bake 400'  for 18 minutes.
9.  When done, cover and place meatballs in the refrigerator to get cold.

Lasagna Cheese Filling Ingredients:
15 ounce cheese (drained overnight)
1 (10 ounce) frozen chopped spinach, squeeze out juice really well (spinach is optional), personally I found that other than visual you couldn't tell much of a difference.
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic pepper 
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Lasagna Cheese Filling Instructions:
1.  Drain ricotta cheese overnight.  To do so, put in a mesh strainer and set in a bowl and cover in the refrigerator.  
2.  Thaw and drain frozen spinach, squeeze out all excess liquid.  Set aside.
3.  Crack egg into a large mixing bowl and gently beat with fork.  Add ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, stir to combine.  Stir in Italian seasoning, garlic pepper and red pepper flakes.  Add spinach, salt and pepper.  Mixture can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. 

Marinara Sauce Ingredients: (Can also be made ahead and frozen.) My experience is 1 cup if two balls and 3/4 cup for 1.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 whole yellow or white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 whole large carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons minced fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus more for serving
Marinara Sauce Directions:
1.  In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic and carrots and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.  Pour the tomatoes and juice in a large bo
wl and use your hands to gently squish/smush the tomatoes so that the juices are released and they are all broken up.  Add the contents of the bowl to the pot and stir.  Add the salt, pepper , sugar and oregano.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3.  Add minced fresh parsley at the end and taste/adjust the sauce for seasonings.  I then use an Immersion Blender at this point to chop up the bigger chunks.  I do not puree it, just leave it very little pieces.  This can also be made ahead.  Keep refrigerated.  Recipe from:

Bee's Balls Directions:
1.  On your countertop sprinkle with flour, using a rolling pin to roll the sheet of puff pastry into a 12"X12" square.   You can roll it out larger and only use 1 box of puff pastry if you want.
2.  Cut into 4 squares or 6 if you roll it out larger.
3.  Place on meatball on the square of puff pastry.  Top with lasagna cheese filling.  Wrap each in a ball, tucking the puff pastry on the bottom.  You can freeze at this point.
4.  To bake frozen preheat oven to 375' and place each on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with a mixtures of (4 Tablespoons melted butter, 2 garlic cloves minced, 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning and a pinch of salt) and bake for 45 minutes. If unfrozen, you are baking them fresh bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with Marinara Sauce.  Optional top with grated parmesan cheese and chopped basil.
These are pretty filling.  Our experience was 2 Bee's Balls per male and 1 per female.  

Summer Strawberry Coconut Cake

Birthday Girl Thats Me

 Karen and I spent the afternoon at the Ijams Nature Center where we hiked to the Forks Of The River Wildlife Management Area where 70 acres of sunflowers are planted.